Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said Friday that the Trump administration is very focused on cryptocurrencies and, in particular, is working to make sure “bad people cannot use these currencies to do bad things.”
Treasury is working with its G-20 counterparts “in making sure that cryptocurrencies don’t become the modern version of the ‘Swiss numbered bank accounts,’ ” Mnuchin said during a moderated discussion hosted by the Economic Club of Washington.
Swiss bank accounts were once infamous as a place to hide funds from prying eyes, but over the past decade Swiss authorities have begun to cooperate with the U.S.’s Internal Revenue Service.
In his remarks, Mnuchin noted that, if you open a “digital wallet” with a company like Coinbase or Blockchain in order to buy bitcoin or other alternative currencies, that entity has the same obligation as a bank under U.S. law to “know your customer” and to track funds that might potentially have been used for money laundering or another type of illegal activity. The rest of the world does not have such laws, Mnuchin said.
The Treasury secretary said he is also worried that consumers “could get hurt” trading cryptocurrencies.
“There is a lot of speculation, and I want to make sure consumers who are trading this understand the risk,” he said.
He said he was not concerned with reports that Venezuela and Russia may move ahead with their own cryptocurrencies to avoid U.S. sanctions.
Mnuchin said the Treasury and the Fed do not see any need for the central bank to issue “digital dollars.”
Read on: Officials say Fed isn’t rolling out digital currency just yet — but stay tuned